Rensselaer Researcher Wins AIChE Young Investigator Award

August 18, 2008

Rensselaer Researcher Wins AIChE Young Investigator Award

Ravi S. Kane, professor of chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has won the 2008 Young Investigator Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum.

The award, announced in early August, is reserved for “outstanding interdisciplinary research in nanoscience and nanotechnology” by researchers who are in the early stages of their professional careers. Kane will deliver his award lecture in November at a special session during the Centennial AIChE annual meeting in Philadelphia. 

“Ravi’s work embodies the synthesis of fields and types of multidisciplinary research that will be necessary if chemical engineering is to make major contributions to the fields of nanotechnology and biotechnology,” said Shekhar Garde, head of Rensselaer’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. “I cannot think of a more deserving candidate for this award.”

The AIChE Young Investigator Award is the latest of Kane’s achievements. In 2004, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology Review named Kane as among the TR 100, a list of the world’s top 100 young innovators. He was recently named the 2008 Dr. G. P. Kane Visiting Professor in Chemical Engineering at the University Institute of Chemical Technology, in Bombay, India. Kane also won a Rensselaer Early Career Award in 2006. 

“Ravi is clearly at the very top of the group of dynamic young people in our profession,” Garde said. “His work is important, exciting, and profound.” 

Kane joined Rensselaer in 2001 and was named a full professor in 2007.  His research focuses on the interface of nanotechnology and biotechnology, in attempt to identify new ways of transforming a fundamental molecular-level understanding of nanoscopic and biological systems to develop new advanced materials that can play an important role in tackling important global challenges related to health and medicine.

In a recent publication in Nature Nanotechnology, Kane’s team demonstrated for the first time that upon exposure to invisible and near-infrared light, carbon nanotubes mediate the selective deactivation of attached proteins. Kane’s group used this phenomenon to design nanotube-peptide conjugates that selectively destroy anthrax toxin from a mixture of proteins. The group also used these findings to develop and create transparent “self-cleaning” nanotube coatings. 

Kane’s other ongoing projects involve developing potent inhibitors of anthrax toxin, and designing new methods to prevent HIV-1 from infecting other cells. His group is developing methods to control cellular microenvironments in order to influence stem cell proliferation and differentiation for applications in tissue engineering.  They are also investigating novel microfluidic strategies for the separation of DNA. 

"Interfacing bioactive molecules with nanomaterials or nanoscale scaffolds is a promising approach for designing potent therapeutics and functional nanocomposites," Kane said.  “New advances are coming faster than ever. It’s an exciting time to be conducting research in this area.” 

Kane received his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, earned his master’s degree and doctorate in chemical engineering from MIT, and was a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University.

Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161


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